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RE: A sad day in Paleontology

His academic influence is felt throughout the vertebrate paleontological
community.  There are today Ph.D. students who are Colbert's student's
student's student's students.  (Tracing backwards, the students of Larry
Witmer (a student of Dave Weishampel (a student of Peter Dodson (a student
of John Ostrom (a student of Ned Colbert))))).

Colbert worked with many of the luminaries of the latest 19th and early 20th
Century (Barbour, and especially H.F. Osborn).  His autobiography A
Fossil-Hunter?s Notebook is great reading for people interested in the life
of this great guy.

As an example of how much Colbert linked different historical periods of vertebrate paleontology, it's because of him that my Darwin Number is 2.

I met Dr. Colbert once or twice. Colbert worked for Osborn. Osborn studied under T.H. Huxley, and claimed that at one point, Darwin himself made an appearance and Osborn got to shake his hand. So two people - Colbert and Osborn - stand between Charles Darwin and me.

Colbert was also part of the last generation of paleontologists who could develop expertise in several groups of animals simultaneously.


Christopher A. Brochu
Assistant Professor
Department of Geoscience
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

319-353-1808 phone
319-335-1821 fax